Thursday, 5 November 2009

Speaking of Goa

For me, the best thing about our Goa trip was not the sun, sand and sea. It was not the adventure sports, nor the Portuguese architecture, nor even the food. The best thing about our Goa trip was that it gave eight of us the chance, for the first time since we left behind our carefree college days, to forget the demands and complications of our working lives, and simply hang out together. The comfort, as Abira put it, of having familiar voices around, of knowing that Arjun will always set his alarm so that the digits add up to 14, Manjula will always give a non-committal answer, Bunty will always order soup, and that no matter what, Sarbajeet will never wake up early.

Speaking of which, after five years together in hostel, I thought I knew my college friends inside out; I thought I was familiar with all their little obsessions and eccentricities. Not so, as I discovered on this trip. For example, we all knew that Abira was a cleanliness freak, but we used to think Aastha was relatively normal. Until she revealed that she travels with two combs – one for clean hair and one for dirty hair. This prompted Kisku to make the gender-sensitive comment of the month: “Girls have so many issues, man!” To which Aastha said, “I don’t have issues, ok? I just have a few minor concerns.”

Aastha wondering which comb to use

Speaking of issues, when it comes to food, Arjun Sarkar has fewer issues than anyone else I know. He has been known to uncomplainingly eat food that is tasteless, badly-cooked or even rotten. When he pronounces that a dish is bad, it means that it is truly inedible. On that count, the eatery in Old Goa where we had lunch deserves to go down in the history books for producing not one, but two dishes which even Arjun could not eat. The offending dishes were Chili Fried Sausage and Prawn Curry. The eatery was called Tourist Inn – a name that shall be forever imprinted on my memory.

Arjun Sarkar doing what he does best

Speaking of tourists, one of the high points of the trip was a tourist asking us directions to the Bom Jesus Basilica, the church which houses the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. “Woh kaun sa church hai jis mein Jesus Christ ka body dabba mein rakha hua hai?” Which roughly translates as, “Which is the church where Jesus Christ’s body is kept in a dabba?” (I cannot translate dabba.) Needless to say, we did not disillusion him; for all we know, he believes to this day that what he saw was not the body of a mere 16th century missionary, but the Son of God.

Courtyard of the Bom Jesus Basilica

Speaking of sightseeing, the town of Panaji may not have too many tourist attractions per se, but it is a sightseer’s delight. An anomaly in both time and space, the Fontainhas area looks like a forgotten pocket of 19th century Portugal. Bunty and I roamed its winding alleys, stopping occasionally to photograph each other against the brightly-coloured buildings that scream out for carnivals and revelry.

Speaking of revelry, the closest we came to said activity was a few tequila shots on the moonlit beach. Much as we enjoyed the trip, a lasting regret was that three of our friends who badly wanted to come could not get leave. When the tequila arrived, someone proposed a toast to “our friends, who couldn’t come on this trip.” “And who also like tequila,” added Arjun, and I thought it was the most touching moment of the trip. In the three days we spent in Goa, we took heritage walks, admired cathedrals, rode on train footboards, swam in the sea, went parasailing and ate tons of seafood, but barring the tequila – and bear in mind that this is Goa – we did not party at all. Like me, my friends have their priorities completely wrong, and this is why I like them so.

Speaking of parties, the most popular accessory for late-night beach parties in Goa is a pair of Mephistophelian horns which glow crimson in the night. They endow the wearer with a certain aura, though the battery is weak, and the glow fades away before sunrise. But in Goa, a lot of things last for just one night.


Abhiroop said...

"Who also like tequila...."

Hmmm. Arjun, Manjula and I did prove that this was indeed true. In a night of magic, horror and after-morning penury.

Long live tequila shots!!!!

Priyanka said...

You're building up quite a collection of these photos of brightly coloured buildings/walls/doors.

But what does the Bom in Bom Jesus mean? For all we know it could be Portuguese for dabba.

Shrabasti Banerjee said...

Isn't that Sujaan's t-shirt? =)

Parasailing? Tequila? Sigh.

Also, your travel posts are the best in the world. =) =)

Spin said...

That last sentence is v-e-r-y loaded.

Sroyon said...

@Lahiri: I would rather that everyone made it to Goa and we didn't have to propose that particular toast, but whatever.

@Priyanka: Means Good Jesus, unfortunately. And you were the one who taught me to appreciate such buildings/walls/doors.

@Shrabasti: We wear the same T-shirts. How do you spot these things?

@Spin: :D

Aditi said...

you seem to have had a blast!! lovely pics, you capture the mood perfectly :)